When President Barack Obama made the decision to sign on to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (informally known as the Iran nuclear deal), he hoped to delay Iranian nuclear proliferation and thereby create more stability in the Middle East. As Obama said at a press conference on July 15, 2015, the agreement meant that “we have the possibility of peacefully resolving a major threat to regional and international security.” Peace was not achieved and Trump was right to exit from it.
Despite its complexity, the deal can be roughly outlined in a simple matter. Essentially, because Iran agreed to postpone its acquisition of nuclear weapons, the country received $150 billion in previously frozen assets. The West lifted trade sanctions on the Islamic Republic, allowing the economy to grow at a greater pace. Quite the gift for simply kicking the can down the road on Iran’s nuclear program.
Perhaps the most glaring fault was an absence of consequences for Iran if they violated terms of the agreement; there was no accountability. Even before Obama formally agreed, the Iranians weren’t transparent. Sure enough, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies identified twenty-three launches since the nuclear agreement was signed in July 2015.
Continuing the litany of faults, when first signed into law, the agreement found an overwhelming lack of support. Only 21 percent of Americans supported, with 49 percent opposing it. Nevertheless, the Obama administration pressed on, unruffled by the concerns of regional allies like Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states. His administration could not even submit the deal as a treaty knowing the votes in Congress weren’t there for it to pass.
A major argument in favor of it promised more stability in the Middle East. However, Iran has only destabilized the region, using its newfound resources to aid terrorist groups in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen. For example, Iran supplied Houthi rebels in Yemen with short-range ballistic missiles, which they launched into Saudi Arabia. In the Syrian Civil War, bolstered Iranian leaders allied with Vladimir Putin, only to further destabilizing the region
At its heart, the deal over emphasized the nuclear program and ignored Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism across the Middle East, so it never could have brought stability. Obama’s fear of conflict reduced American global leadership in the Middle East. Frederic C. Hof, a former special advisor in Obama’s State Department, wrote, “[T]he administration sacrificed Syrian civilians and American credibility for the mistaken notion that Iran required appeasement in Syria as the price for a nuclear agreement.”
The termination of the deal is a clear defeat for the Iranians. They are in desperate need of jumpstarting their economy. Labor strikes have recently erupted across the country over inflation and wages. Iran cannot simply restart their nuclear program without facing domestic and international pressures. The government’s position is brittle. It cannot take risks easily.
Iran failed to uphold their end of the bargain before the deadline. There is no justifiable reason to believe that the Iranian government was going to continue to honor the agreement after it passed. It made no sense to give an extremist theocracy so many concessions in the first place. President Donald Trump, who ran for office touting his record as a great deal maker, had good reason to pull out of the atrocious agreement with Iran.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.